Phi Sigma Sigma was founded at Hunter College on November 26, 1913. Its original name was Phi Sigma Omega, but it was discovered that the name was already in use. Its founders are Lillian Gordon Alpern, Josephine Ellison Breakstone, Fay Chertkoff, Estelle Melnick Cole, Jeanette Lipka Furst, Ethel Gordon Kraus, Shirley Cohen Laufer, Claire Wunder McArdle, Rose Sher Seidman and Gwen Zaliels Snyder.
Recently, I highlighted the World War I service of a sorority woman. Today, on Phi Sigma Sigma’s Founders’ Day, I recognize the World War II service of one of its Archons.
Thelma B. Zackin, when she was the National Tribune,was a member of the Red Cross Motor Corps in Waterbury, Connecticut, her hometown. In a report in the sorority magazine, it was noted:
Her unit has a station wagon and she has regular days each week for driving and does all kinds of errands for the Red Cross, Clinics, and Mobile Units. Thelma is assigned to a Mobile Unit and drives her car with a doctor and staff of first aid assistants whenever they are called out for an emergency. She is also a certified Red Cross instructor and has taught quite a number of classes.
The September 1948 issue of the Jewish Post included this press release:
NEW YORK—The United Jewish Appeal disclosed this, week that it had expanded its mobilization of Jewish women in the U.S. to include young women on the college campuses of the nation. UJA officials announced they had received a check for $1,000 in contributions from members of Phi Sigma Sigma, national sorority.
Miss Thelma B. Zackin, Waterbury, Conn., Grand Archon of the sorority presented the check to Mrs. Ernest G. Wadel of Dallas, Tex., chairman of the UJA National Women’s division. The gift to the UJA was voted at a recent national convention by 23 campus chapters and 20 alumni groups. Members of the sorority have contributed more than $5,500 to UJA community campaigns during the past year, UJA officials said. Mrs. Wadel said that the money ‘symbolizes the new spirit of responsibility assumed by growing numbers of Jewish women throughout the nation.’ Miss Zackin said that ‘this opportunity to participate in the development of the world’s youngest democracy is surely one which we cannot and will not miss.’ The sorority was believed to be the first U. S. college group to take such action.
Zackin died in 2009 at the age of 102. She resided in Waterbury almost her entire life. She graduated from New York University in 1927. After teaching and working in the family business, she kept busy in her retirement. She travelled to New York City two days a week to volunteer at Hadassah’s National Headquarters.